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STABLE NOTES BY ED GOLDEN
• DERBY AWAITS ESPINOZA, BUT FIRST THERE’S SUNDAY
• ROVENNA STRETCHES OUT IN $250,000 MELAIR STAKES
• TALAMO HOPES TO DOUBLE HIS (STAKES) PLEASURE
• O’NEILL HAS PAIR MINING FOR CALIFORNIA GOLD
• DERBY CONTENDER DANCE WITH FATE WORKS SATURDAY
ESPINOZA KEEN ON MOONE’S MY NAME IN WILSHIRE
Moone’s My Name seeks her second straight stakes win going one mile on turf in Sunday’s Grade III, $100,000 Wilshire Stakes for fillies and mares, three years old and up.
Victor Espinoza likes his chances aboard the 6-year-old gray mare trained by John Sadler for the Batchelor Family Trust. Espinoza rode Moone’s My Name to an eventful one-length victory in the ungraded American Beauty Stakes on March 29, prior to finishing an even more eventful sixth in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes on Feb. 17.
“She ran well in the American Beauty, but I think she’s going to run even better on Sunday,” said Espinoza, who was in tight and four-wide late before capturing the American Beauty. “In the Buena Vista, she stumbled at the three-eighths pole and didn’t get beat that far (five lengths), but I had to steady her.
“Now, she’s getting better. I expect her to run a big race Sunday.”
An English-bred daughter of Intikhab, Moone’s My Name has eight wins, three seconds and five thirds from 23 starts, with earnings just under $200,000.
Meanwhile, Espinoza remains understandably enamored with Santa Anita Derby winner California Chrome, favored to become the first California-bred since Decidedly in 1962 to win the Kentucky Derby on May 3.
He marveled at his four-furlong work in 47.80 at Los Alamitos last Saturday and is eager to get back on tomorrow at the Orange Country track for the colt’s final major workout before leaving for Kentucky on Monday.
“It was his first work back from the Santa Anita Derby (on April 5),” said Espinoza, who won the Kentucky Derby in 2002 aboard War Emblem. “California Chrome is an amazing horse. He does things so easy. When I work him, he feels like he’s just galloping around. I never use a watch to time him when I work him.
“I thought he was going to go in 47 (last Saturday), and that’s so easy for him. He has so much ability.”
The Wilshire: Moone’s My Name, Victor Espinoza, 5-2; Parranda, Rafael Bejarano, 2-1; Premier Steps, Mike Smith, 9-2; Rhagori, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; Theatre Star, Gary Stevens, 5-2; Nickels Wild, Martin Garcia, 12-1; and Journey On, Tyler Baze, 12-1.
MACHOWSKY OK WITH ROVENNA STRETCH OUT, TWILIGHT RACING
Rovenna stretches out in Saturday’s $250,000 Melair Stakes for 3-year-old fillies at a mile and one sixteenth, but trainer Mike Machowsky is confident the Vronsky filly owned and bred by Donald Dizney can get the job done.
The Melair is one of five stakes races Saturday spotlighting California-breds.
Rovenna is coming of an authoritative front-running victory by nearly three lengths in the 6 ½-furlong Evening Jewel Stakes on April 5. It was her first race in almost two months.
“She’s run well routing before,” Machowsky said, referring to two third-place finishes at one mile against Cal-breds, the Golden State Juvenile on Santa Anita’s main track last Nov. 1 and the California Cup Oaks on turf Jan. 25.
“She’s kind of lightly raced (the Melair would be her ninth career start), so I think she can handle it.”
Machowsky was looking forward to twilight racing at Santa Anita, which starts at 3 p.m. today and will be offered most Fridays throughout the 40-day Spring Meet that ends June 29.
“I love it,” he said in an unsolicited testimonial. “I think it’s great. It’s something new, the start of the weekend, and people are getting off work and can come to the track and hang out for a few hours.
“I think it’s a great idea. Bring your wife, bring your girlfriend. It’s kind of like date night at the races.”
The field for the Melair, race nine of 11 starting at 1 p.m.: Swiss Lake Yodeler, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Rovenna, Victor Espinoza, 2-1; Wonderful Lie, Corey Nakatani, 12-1; Magic Spot, Mike Smith, 5-1; Anniversary Kitty, Joe Talamo, 5-1; Versye, Mario Gutierrez, 12-1; and Harlington’s Rose, Tyler Baze, 7-2. Shakeitupbetty was scratched.
TALAMO OPTIMISTIC ON CHANCES IN TIZNOW, SPRING FEVER
Joe Talamo reconnects with China Prince in Saturday’s $125,000 Tiznow Stakes for 4-year-olds and up at one mile on the main track. The second-leading rider at the recently concluded Winter Meet, Talamo last rode China Prince on March 1 of 2013, finishing second in an allowance race on the grass.
But Talamo has worked the gelded son of Peppered Cat for trainer Craig Dollase in preparation for the Tiznow, named for the back-to-back Breeders’ Cup Classic winner and Horse of the Year in 2000.
“China Prince worked real well and he galloped out real strong,” Talamo said. “He’s only had one race on the main track, but the track was pretty bad that day (finishing sixth on a wet/fast surface in the California Breeders’ Championship Stakes last Jan. 26).
“Hopefully, he’ll get over the track Saturday real well. He should be in a good spot, too. He drew outside.”
Talamo has the utmost respect for Warren’s Veneda, his mount in the $125,000 Spring Fever for older fillies and mares at six furlongs. Warren’s Veneda is a consistent 4-year-old Affirmative filly trained by Craig Lewis for owner/breeder Benjamin Warren.
“She’s a real, real nice filly,” Talamo said. “I know she’s honest. She’s coming off a slight layoff (last raced on Dec. 7, finishing third in the Grade II Bayakoa Stakes). She wants to go a little further than six (furlongs), but I know there’s a lot of speed in there, so it should set up pretty well.”
The field for the Tiznow: Rousing Sermon, Rafael Bejarano. 6-5; Soi Phet, Julien Couton, 5-2; Storm Fighter, Edwin Maldonado, 5-1; Lakerville, Brice Blanc, 3-1; Kate’s Event, Corey Nakatani, 4-1; and China Prince, Joe Talamo, 6-1. Toledo Eddie was scratched.
The field for the Spring Fever: Marks Mine, Frank Alvarado, 3-1; Could Be Trouble, Edwin Maldonado, 8-1; Sudden Sunday, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Yes She’s Unusual, Tyler Baze, 20-1; Quizzical, Drayden Van Dyke, 8-1; Our Pure Creation, Rafael Bejarano, 3-1; Warren’s Veneda, Joe Talamo, 5-2; and Top Kisser, Corey Nakatani, 4-1.
O’NEILL OPTIMISTIC ABOUT CHANCES IN SNOW CHIEF, FRAN’S VALENTINE
Doug O’Neill will send out a longshot and a contender in Saturday’s Snow Chief Stakes and Fran’s Valentine Stakes, respectively.
The trainer of 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I’ll Have Another has maiden Frensham in the $250,000 Snow Chief for 3-year-olds at a mile and an eighth, and the steady filly Danceingtothestars in the $100,000 Fran’s Valentine at one mile on turf.
“Frensham is a really nice Cal-bred with a lot of upside,” O’Neill said of the son of Square Eddie owned by Zillah Reddam. “There’s only one Snow Chief and it’s worth a lot of money. The horse is doing super. It’s a tough spot, but he’s a tough horse.”
Frensham was second in a grassy maiden allowance race March 9, before prompting the pace in the Echo Eddie at 6 ½ furlongs on dirt, fading to seventh, beaten only 5 ½ lengths.
Dancingtothestars, on the other hand, is a consistent 6-year-old Good Journey mare who was third by a length in the Irish O’Brien on March 15. In 22 starts, she has a 6-4-5 record with earnings of $413,122. She won the Megahertz at one mile on turf on Jan. 18.
“She’s real honest,” O’Neill said of Dancingtothestars. “She’s a hard-knocking mare.”
The field for the Snow Chief: Frensham, Mario Gutierrez, 20-1; Alert Bay, Tyler Baze, 3-1; Aotearoa, Mike Smith, 6-1; Awesome Return, Joe Talamo, 4-1; Kukaluka, Victor Espinoza, 15-1; Tamarando, Rafael Bejarano, 2-1; Pray Hard, Corey Nakatani, 6-1; and Patriots Rule, Fernando Perez, 9-2.
The Fran’s Valentine: Ciao Bella Luna, Victor Espinoza, 8-1; Unusual Hottie, Tyler Baze, 5-2; Unusual Way, Rafael Bejarano, 5-2; Halo Dolly, Corey Nakatani, 2-1; Kathleen Rose, Brice Blanc, 8-1; Journey On, Mike Smith, 12-1; and Dancingtothestars, Mario Gutierrez, 5-1. O’Neill said Journey On likely would scratch to run in Sunday’s Wilshire Stakes.
EURTON HOPES ‘FATE’ IS WITH HIM IN KENTUCKY DERBY
California Chrome isn’t the only horse from Southern California scheduled to run in the Kentucky Derby a week from Saturday. It just seems that way, because the Santa Anita Derby winner is getting all the hype.
But among the other Golden State hopefuls is Dance With Fate, surprise winner of the Blue Grass Stakes, who, like California Chrome, leaves Monday for Kentucky and final preparations for the 140th Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs.
“He’s acting really well,” trainer Peter Eurton said of the Florida-bred son of Two Step Salsa, who has raced just twice on traditional dirt, finishing second to the late Bond Holder in the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes last September before finishing eighth with a troubled trip in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Nov. 2.
“A this point, there’s no reason not to run (in the Derby),” Eurton said. “He’s doing well, he’s happy. What else can you go by? I’ll be 20-1, but I’ll be enjoying every bit of it. If I see those little pink colors making a little bit of a run, I’ll be excited.”
Dance With Fate, who will be ridden by Corey Nakatani in the Derby, is scheduled to work on Santa Anita’s turf course Saturday before leaving Monday with California Chrome for Kentucky.
“He’ll work on the turf if it doesn’t rain,” Eurton said. “He relaxes well on the grass and he won’t do too much. He’s pretty fit.”
SANTA ANITA INFIELD OPEN FOR LIVE RACING FOR TRIPLE CROWN & BEYOND
Santa Anita will offer fans free weekend admission to its spacious Infield Area and free parking via Infield Gate 6, beginning Saturday through the conclusion of the upcoming Spring Meet that ends Sunday, June 29.
“For the first time ever, we will be open for live racing during the Triple Crown,” said Santa Anita Vice President of Marketing Nate Newby. “Our Infield has been and remains an incredibly popular area for young people, families and groups and we are excited to be able to showcase our entire facility leading into the Kentucky Derby and through the Belmont Stakes.
“By offering free parking and free admission in the Infield, we’re hoping to attract many thousands of new and existing fans and expose them to the best our sport has to offer. In addition to great racing both here and around the country, we’re also going to let folks know that they are welcome to bring beach chairs to the Infield, coolers with picnic items and non-alcoholic beverages.”
Santa Anita’s Gate 6 is accessible via Colorado Place on the track’s northern perimeter. Anyone choosing to cross over from the Infield to the Grandstand may do so by purchasing General Admission for $5. Santa Anita Thoroughbreds Club members can purchase General Admission for just $3. The Thoroughbreds reward membership program is free to join and fans may do so on-track on any racing day.
General Parking on Santa Anita’s Grandstand side remains at $4. For more information on Santa Anita’s Summer Meet, please visit santaanita.com or call (626) 574-6417.
FINISH LINES: Multiple graded stakes winner Tiz Flirtatious, winner of the Grade I Rodeo Drive Stakes last fall, is due to return soon. “She’s doing well. She’ll probably be breezing here within a week or so,” said trainer Marty Jones. “We’re taking our time bringing her back. We freshened her up and she looks good.”